The heart of Christmas

During the Christmas season I make a point of rereading the little book What Christmas Means to Me—a compilation of several of Mary Baker Eddy’s messages on the true significance of Christmas. Even if you’re determined not to get caught up in the busyness and the commercialism that often characterize the season, you soon realize that mere human effort, without a heartfelt appreciation and reminder of the spiritual significance of Christmas, can be frustratingly ineffective. As I’ve quietly considered the deep spiritual import of this little book, my thought has always been lifted to a stronger understanding of what we might call the heart of Christmas. 

Many years ago, after much mental wrestling in my personal life, my study of Christian Science led me to glimpse this true spirit of Christmas, and what it means to be less wrapped up in the human self. After a divorce, I had agreed that our two young children should spend the Christmas holidays with their father. Sad to say, although I was sure the children would enjoy it—and their well-being was never a concern—I was plunged into a pit of despair and self-pity. The proverbial last straw came when I was asked by my branch church to substitute at the Reading Room on Christmas Day. I’m sorry to admit my first thought was: “Fine thing! Everyone else has family, friends, or plans. The only reason they asked me is that I’m the only one in the whole church who will be alone on that day!“ I now wince whenever I recall that reaction, but, of course, deep down I knew this was hardly a constructive or loving way of approaching the situation. Yet I was unable to summon up the spiritual discipline to refute this suggestion.

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